The Islamic State is setting up networks to support the systematic movement of terrorists from the Middle East to Europe and Asia, according to U.S. defense officials.

“ISIS has several facilitators in place that assist the flow of fighters to Europe,” said one official who noted the group is exploiting travel networks used for large-scale human trafficking in the region. The networks include an organizational structure that has been discovered by U.S. and allied intelligence agencies to be using specific groups to help terrorists reach European soil. ISIS has assigned support personnel to the networks to facilitate the process.

No specific numbers were provided by the officials on ISIS fighters moving from strongholds in Syria and Iraq to Europe and Asia.

Many of the fighters, however, are returning nationals who joined ISIS several years ago where they received training and experience during Middle East conflicts. The fighters are regarded as hardened jihadists who will seek to infiltrate society and prepare for future attacks.

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